A Lean Solution

An interview with Steve Wood, operations director, Oxley Developments

What does Oxley Developments do?

We're a well established electronics company based in Ulverston and Barrow in Cumbria. We manufacture high performance electronic equipment for aerospace, land systems and marine application worldwide. The company is nearly 70 years old and has an enviable reputation for its product quality and technological innovation. 

What made you contact Paloma initially?

We had a significant issue with the lead time and quality performance relating to a specific electronic filter unit. Paloma was well known to me from past associations, and I had complete faith in their ability to help us with our problem.

What problems were you facing and what improvements did you want to make?

Yield was poor. Lead time was excessive. The amount of product testing which had been allowed to proliferate was unacceptable. The proportion of value added to non value added time in the process was equally unacceptable and we needed help to quickly provide us with robust solutions.

What did you hope to achieve by involving Paloma? What was the desired end result?

We hoped to gain experienced Lean & Six Sigma intervention to positively disturb the manufacturing process. The desired end result was a stable, consistent process with vastly improved value added content.

What approach was taken to achieve the ends?

Paloma undertook a full investigation of the filter manufacture process using value stream mapping techniques and thorough application of a DMAIC ( define, measure, analyse, improve, control) approach. The overall aim of the project was to stabilise the manufacturing process and enable Oxley to consistently supply quality product to the customer delivery requirements.

What was achieved? What were the results and benefits to the business?

The value stream maps highlighted huge opportunities to eliminate waste, increase the value added content and to stabilise the manufacturing process. The highly objective output of the value stream allowed us to slaughter some age old sacred manufacturing cows by challenging opinion with hard fact. As a direct result of Paloma's intervention, we developed plans which improved yield by 80%, reduced cycle time to fall in line with customer takt time, and improved value added content by over 300%.

What future plans do you have? Is improvement an ongoing process?

Paloma are now assisting us with the development of Black Belts and Green Belts to drive self-supported continuous improvement programmes throughout the business. I am particularly impressed by the way in which they have embraced the concept of "teaching us to fish" rather than perpetuating the need for us to rely on them to do the fishing for us! Their involvement with us has a defined start and end point and they are fully committed to providing us with the tools to be self-sufficient prior to pulling away and leaving it up to us. In my experience of consultants, this is an extremely refreshing and professional approach.

Steve Wood, Operations Director, Oxley Developments